Environmental Pollution Law and Justice. A Case Study of Militancy in the Niger Delta of Nigeria

Master's Thesis, 2014

80 Pages, Grade: 3.5













. This report keenly examines the influence of Oil Exploration and production in the degradation of the Niger Delta Environment and its associated spill-over effects. Nigeria’s economy is Crude Oil driven, with enormous wealth coming being garnered by the OPEC’s sixth largest Oil producer. This Crude Oil is being produced in the Niger Delta region of the Country.

Despite its importance to the wealth and economy of the Country, the region has remained perpetual security heartbreak to the Country. It is sufficient to say that, Nigeria visibly lacks effective Environmental Laws and Policies and where these are available, enforcement, monitoring and dependable judicial system is absent. This has led the people to challenge their destiny and rescue a place for posterity, resorting to arm conflicts otherwise known as Militancy after series of peaceful protests couldn’t catch the Federal government’s attention.

A research style with firm basis was used in methodologically approach of this research. A qualitative analysis of secondary data obtained from structured interview, first hand observations and relevant literature reviews. These data were used as the basis to support the discussion.

This research work is about identifying the role of Law and Justice in ensuring a safe, secure and environmentally sustainable Niger Delta. It identifies some loopholes in Nigerian Laws and its enforcement as it affects the environment and Oil and Gas activities and how it relates to militants activities in the Niger Delta region. It also brings to the fore the effect of these on the indigenes, Oil exploration and production companies and the Federal government of Nigeria.

After recognizing the different links to militancy in the Niger Delta, this research tenders recommendations that should be painstakingly implemented to offer another dimension to solving the issue of militancy. Although the Federal government and the National Assembly of Nigeria has come up with a new Petroleum Industry Bill, they need to do more in the aspect of enforcement to guarantee a potent law when the bill eventually becomes a law, encouraging efficiency as a yardstick for performance grading in various government agencies involved in environmental protection. This research work therefore place importance on an integrated approach from all concerned parties in the Niger Delta region for an efficacious implementation of the recommendations towards ensuring a peaceful and sustainable Niger Delta.


I thank in a special way my supervisor Professor Tahseen Jafry for her guidance and encouragement during the period of this dissertation. My sincere appreciation also goes to my brother and teacher Dr. Israel Adebayo for his support throughout my study period.


This research work is dedicated to all Campaigners of Environmental Rights and to the vulnerable children in developing Countries who feel the most severe impacts of our changing world.


Figure 1: Diagrammatic representation of EMS.

Figure 2: The Niger Delta states of Nigeria Figure 3: Life in the Niger Delta Creeks

Figure 4: Oil installation on bonny water way in the Niger Delta.

Figure 5: An oil installation in a village in the Niger Delta.

Figure 6 & 7: Locals getting water from oil polluted River.

Figure 8 & 9: Degraded farmlands in the Niger Delta.

Figure 10: Pie chart showing Percentage global gas flared.

Figure 11: A gas flaring site.

Figure 12: Gas flaring site.

Figures 13 and 14: Arms submitted at one of the amnesty programmes venues

Table 1: Nigeria: Sectorial Contribution of Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

Table 2: Framework for Result discussion




Prior to the commercial discovery of oil at Oloibiri, the people of Niger Delta make their living from agricultural and aquacultural activities (farming and fishing), also, exploitation of other land and forest resources; this created a bonding between them and their environment and hence, the protection of their environment was a priority (Etiosa and Anthony, 2007). Oil production in Nigeria has attracted both pains and gains; it has attracted conflicting influence from both inside and outside Nigeria especially from the oil rich regions (Platform, 2006). The accelerated development hoped for by Nigerians following the gains that would accrue for oil exploration and sale were things that brought joy as of a pregnant mother to the Citizens but then, the delivery of this pregnant joy has brought conflicts rather than rolling out of drums (Okonmah, 1997).

Every Organisational activity (Industrial, Administrative and Military etc.) has its associated hazards and risk (which could be environmental, economic or even social) and plans are made in accordance with standards to manage these risks, ensure efficiency and sustains its activities. Oil spills, gas flaring, waste water discharge etc. are some of the associated hazards of Oil exploration impacting the Niger Delta (Akinro et al, 2008). The coming of Multinational oil Companies have actually increased how much and often man influenced environmental degradation occurs in the Niger Delta region, affecting majorly the residents of the oil producing areas, violating their fundamental human rights and threatening their sustainability (Alison, 2005).

While multinational companies (e.g. Shell) don’t often regard as required the livelihood and sustainability of the communities where their activities impacts, host communities also do not always have the will and power to fight the injustice done their communities and livelihood as a result of the Multinational companies’ activities. Likewise, Government and its agencies have often preferred economic and social gains of these companies’ to standards for environmental protection (Alison, 2005). In view of their assumed helplessness and lack of government and multinationals companies willingness to integrate environmental protection into developmental projects and activities, youths in the Oil producing regions sought to protect their fundamentals rights and existence by themselves, returning conflicts in turn (Aminu, 2013).

Although Nigeria still operates some old environmental laws (some dating back to 1950s), they can still favourably stand at par with the laws obtainable in developed Nations, however, these laws lacks effective enforcement. Unlike in the US where the Government was able to force BP to compensate the victims of 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill and incur huge liability under the US Pollution act of 1990, the Government of Nigeria has been unable to challenge Shell and other E&P companies activities as regards pollution with Shell challenging the power of Nigeria government fining it the sum of $5billion for the Bonga oil spill, claiming the government lacks such powers as against International Standards and Human rights (Aminu, 2013). The aftermath of this is the persisting confrontation between the Nigerian Federal government and the Niger Delta militants.

Activities involving exploration and production (E&P) of oil in the Niger Delta region have led to wide-scale human and environmental devastation which thus threatens the lives of people in the region; the air, water and land (About oil, 2012). As these legal steps taken by the people continues to fail and work standards, policies and established process were being sold for money (Victor, 2009), the people took to peaceful protests. As early as 1965, people of Niger Delta started peaceful agitations to spur the consciousness of successive government to their plight and pleads for remediation, initially through legal and court actions to force Multinational Oil Companies (MOCs) to compensate host communities. Non-violent protests in the 70s, 80s, and 90s for Resource control, environmental consciousness and high level of environmental hazard caused by oil exploration in the Niger Delta climaxed with the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa (a voice representing the interest of the region in the early 80s) (nrc.nl, 2010). It developed to full blown violent militancy ranging from oil facilities and installations attacks to pipeline vandalisation, hostage-taking and kidnapping of both foreign and local oil workers, killing of their victims, sabotage and oil bunkering amongst many other crimes (Aminu, 2013).

With the reality of environmental degradation and poverty rather than wealth dawning on the people of the Niger Delta and lack of inefficient Legal, economic and monitoring systems allowing for the continuous degradation, the foundation for Militant activities was laid (Okumagba, 2012). The word “emancipation” which means to be freed from restraints or bondage (Merriam-Webster, 2013) is a constant defining decimal for all the Militant groups and this clearly shows that the people of Niger Delta sees themselves enslaved by the Laws and Government Institutions of Nigeria. The various militant groups believe Government and its Institutions haven’t done enough to control and curtail the activities and assumed excesses of the Multinational companies; this they further believe is heightened by unpopular non-people oriented legislations and Policies, slow and weakened judicial system and a selective enforcement of Judgements and Monitoring systems. One of the most prominent militia groups in the Niger Delta region, the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) based its activities on defending the rights of its people, waging war against the unabated exploitation of “their resources”, oppression of the people in that region, devastation of the Natural environment due to the multinationals activities (Chris, 2012).


Lack of standards and monitoring has today given birth to a problem larger than those who has ushered it in and has thus become a Nigerian problem, militancy (Aminu, 2013), hence, the need for Environmental Justice has remained environmental activists and campaigner’s best possible way of salvaging the situation. Environmental Imperialism had suggested that “threats to human livelihoods were coincident with threats to ecosystems”. Environmental Justice is not just a fight against pollution but a politics that requests general control and an expanded decision making process involving the communities (Byrne et. al, 2002). Environmental consciousness and social responsibility should be a part of the E&P companies business rather than seen as bonus given or favour being done the host communities.

The weakness of the Nigerian constitution in providing laws viz a viz administering justice and which also gives full control of resources to the Federal (Central) government means that the people with no control of their resources still suffers the negligence and scavenging activities of the multinationals, politicians and government officials. Also, ingloriously absent from the Nigerian Constitution is the word “Environment”; although it’s protected by International Environmental treaties, a provision of the 1999 constitution states that “No treaty between the Federation and any other country shall have the force of law except to the extent to which any such treaty has been enacted into law by the National Assembly”, making the treaty not binding on Nigeria hence, the need for Environmental Law and effective Judicial system to give hope to the vulnerable women and children and also act as respite for the cheated and marginalised (Etiosa and Matthew, 2007). Where however these laws exist (not as enshrined in the constitution) in the forms of agencies and bodies, its level of lax and inadequacies ensures that nothing is done in cases of environmental pollution and degradation until such a time that much damage has been done to the environment, hence the need to have an effective law and efficient judicial system to match (Aghalino and Eyinla, 2009).

This research work therefore aims to address environmental law and effective enforcement with focus on how it could be relevant in tackling the issues of militancy in the Niger Delta.


- Critically analyse the impacts of environmental pollution on (host) communities.
- Describe and document the implications of environmental pollution on the reputation of multinational companies from a critical point of view (Litigations).
- Evaluate the impact of militancy on the Nigeria government.
- Provide recommendations on environmental laws for the future.



This chapter provides the theoretical and conceptual support for the study through review of other work that has been done either on the research in general or on salient key issues that are associated with the research work, looking critically at them from the larger macro level perspective and streamlining it down to how it affects the elements of the micro level.


The importance of oil and gas to human existence spans throughout history even before it came to replace coal, ancient cultures used crude oil as binding agent and by 1500 BC there was growing use of oil for lightning in fire pans (Library of Congress, 2006). EDF Energy, (2013) simply defined oil as fossil fuel formed as a result of change in the chemical composition of organisms whose remains have been buried underneath oceans and other large water bodies such as lakes millions of years ago. According to Zronik, (1972) revised in (2004), oil and natural gas found alongside it are important sources of energy (oil is refined to produce gasoline used to fuel cars, trucks and some other important machines while natural gas can be used to produce heat energy for factories and homes).

Although modern oil industry began in the USA around mid-19th Century when Colonel Drake Edwin discovered the first underground oil reserve in Pennsylvania (OPEC, 2011) after which oil discovery spread across different Countries and continents after much exploration (Scientific process of finding oil) and this is followed by the extraction and separation of the discovered oil (Production). History has it that the first oil well was drilled in China around the 4th Century with the use of Bamboo poles (Library of Congress, 2006).


According to Dominic (2010), history of oil production in Nigeria can be traced back to 1908 when German Company, Nigerian Bitumen Corporation before World War 1 drilled fourteen wells in an area known today as Lagos in search of oil before abandoning the search due to the war. With the establishment of Shell/D'Arcy Exploration Parties in 1937, there was a renewed drive for oil discovery and exploration in Nigeria and by 1956, Oil was discovered in commercial quantity at Oloibiri, a village in present day Bayelsa State (Amina, 2008).

According to BP’s 2012 Statistical Energy Survey quoted in Mbendi (2013), in 2011, Nigeria’s oil reserve was about 37.2 billion barrels, an equivalent of about 41.4 years at current production level and representing about 2.25% of the world's reserve at daily production rate of over 2401.6 thousand barrels per day. Nigeria’s oil Industry is chiefly managed by foreign multinationals e.g. Shell, Chevron, Mobil, Total to say a few and Shell (having in the year 1938 acquired an exploration licence in Nigeria) producing about 43% of the country’s total production (UNECA, 2013). According to the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) (2013), Nigeria is ranked as Africa Largest Producer of Oil and Sixth highest in the world even with actions of militants in the Niger Delta region of the country reducing the production level; this is a clear indication that the country can produce more if there’s peace in this region.

According to an African Development Bank (ADB) and the African Union (AU) report (2009), governments rarely leads the exploration and production of oil, it is usually led by Multinational Exploration and Production (E&P) companies and this can further explain why these multinationals and their home countries are always influential both in the economics and politics of countries where they operate, especially African Countries. According to David (2011), while in industrialised democracies, it’s expected that laws and regulations will structure the activities of multinational countries, the story is not the same for developing Nations where legal standards may be weak or non-existent, the government may be corrupt or inefficient.


According to Heydova et.al (2011), Oil significance is enormous, transcending regions where it’s produced as we see its use every day around us; toothbrush, transportation, plastics etc. are crude oil dependent. He further indicated that the inequality in the location of crude oil gives some countries the opportunity to dictate supply on one part, leading to vulnerability and fragility on the other. Akosua (2010) describes oil not just as a fuel but as that which fuels the global economy and the economic importance of Oil to any region where it’s found (most especially developing regions or countries) as something that’s greeted with high optimism due to the expected financial gains. Akosua (2010) further quoted a World Development Report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) (2007:95), explaining how positive extractive activities like oil can be on a Community or Nation, driving up development of infrastructures and creating more jobs. Gary (2009) quoted in Akosua (2010) reported former Ghana President Kufuor J.A while talking on oil discovery in Ghana to have said “oil is money and we need money to do the schools, the roads, the hospitals...Even without oil we are doing so well already. Now, with oil as a shot in the arm, we’re going to fly”. According to DoubleDigest (2013), economy is the backbone of any Nation and oil producing Nations of the developing world depends heavily on foreign exchange from oil revenue.

However, unlike Countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the African Development Bank and the African Union report (2009) highlighted that evidence has shown high oil price to be a curse rather than a blessing in Africa with Oil becoming a source of political, economic and environmental problems rather than being a treasure. According to Anthony (2012), Nigeria for example got huge revenues from oil which made it possible for them to increase their expenditure and investment; however, this increase in revenue made the Nigeria’s economy to be heavily oil dependent and also brought about high level of mismanagement.

According to Adedipe (2004), Nigeria’s dominant sector of economy prior to oil discovery and boom of the 1970s was agriculture, contributing about 70% of the Nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employing a vast number of people too with Cocoa being a major export product but the trend started changing with the wealth from oil increasing with the oil sector evolving from its initial supporting role to be the dominant sector (DoubleDigest, 2013)

Table I Nigeria: Sectoral Contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Source: Adedipe, (2004) The impact of oil on Nigeria’s economic policy formulation.

Akinwale (2010) noted that all the billions of barrels of oil produced by Nigeria has not translated into wealth rather, the country has moved from one of the top 50 richest countries of the 1950s to one of the poorest now. Poverty in the Niger Delta region is of more concern as their means of livelihood, agriculture has been taken over by environmental degradation.


According to the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) summit tagged “THE EARTH SUMMIT” reported in the E&P Forum/UNEP technical report (1997), the need for supplies to meet up with the world’s energy demand through oil and its associated gas industry brings environmental impacts which challenges best practices and therefore must be minimised. The technical report further states the ecological damage oil production could have on the air, land and water environment including the social environment. The Earth Summit therefore came up with an Agenda 21 (plan of action) which amongst others includes:

- Protecting the Environment
- Managing Land Sustainability
- Protecting and managing fresh water.

According to the Lehigh University Environmental Initiative (2007), oil exploration and drilling has the potential to disturb land and marine habitats as a result of pollution. Yosif and Nancy (2005) explain that Exploration and production of petroleum have detrimental impacts on soils, surface and groundwater, and ecosystems in oil producing states in the United States. They further stated that though Oil use and consumption could be beneficial, it can also cause serious environmental impacts that could extend beyond regions, becoming global in nature, including global climate change and environmental pollution. The E&P forum/UNEP technical report (1997) indicated further that exploration and production of oil and gas can have different kinds of impacts on the environment, depending on the stage, size and complexity of production; depending on the sensitivity of the environment surrounding the project and the effectiveness of planned Environmental management systems.


Corbett (1996) describes the major problem associated with the dependence on oil as the serious damaging impact of production and distribution on the environment. According to him, pollution as a result of oil waste dumping, oil spills and flaring amongst others have resulted in land, water and air pollution, wreaking havoc on wildlife and habitats and advancing the extinction of several plants. Pollution is defined in Obadina (2011) as the introduction of substances or energy directly or indirectly by man into the environment and which could result in such deleterious effects as harm to living resources, hazards to human health, hindrance to marine activities including fishing, impairment of quality for use of water and reduction of amenities. According to the World Health Organisation quoted in Obadina (2011), the environment is considered polluted when it is altered in composition or condition directly or indirectly as a result of the activities of man so that it becomes less suitable to some or all of the uses for which it would be suitable in its natural state.

According to Aluko (2004), Nigeria is blessed with lots of natural resources but instead of helping in the development of the environment, exploration and exploitation of these resources particularly oil has led to vast degradation of the environment in the region where it is found. Oil exploration in Nigeria Niger Delta according to Aluko (2004) is not restricted to only rural areas or offshore; oil is explored on sea, on land, in the rural and in the urban cities. According to a Vermont law review (2012), the Nigeria Niger Delta environment is about the most grossly impacted by activities relating to oil Production chief of which are oil spills and gas flaring. World Wildlife Funds (2013) stated that oil and gas extraction and production could result in lasting damage to the environment due to the release of tons of harmful pollutants in the air, water and land. According to Wayne (1971), the time it takes contaminated environment to return to its original state can never be determined accurately.

(A) WATER AND LAND POLLUTION: Ugochukwu (2008) opined that extractive activities such as oil exploration are bound to have environmental effects in the region where they are being carried out and as such detrimental effects on the Niger Delta of Nigeria. According to the Vermont law review (2012), over fifty years of explorative activities in the Niger Delta has resulted in grave destruction of arable farmlands and productive waters. According to Corbett (1996), either the physical nature of oil or its chemical components can affect the water body or the organisms in it. Furthermore, he explained that the impacts of oil pollution on land could be as devastating as leading to destruction of wildlife and biodiversity, loss of fertile lands, degradation of farm lands and contamination of underground waters. A similar view shared by both Ugochukwu (2008) and Lucy et.al (2011) stated that the impacts of oil pollution on water make the water unsuitable for its other purposes including being a life support system for both man and animals. According to Essien and John (2010), for crops and plants to germinate, it requires a soil with adequate air, water and nutrient to support the growth of the plant, however, oil pollution in the Niger Delta of Nigeria reduces the productivity of soils by making the required air, water and nutrients unavailable.

(B) AIR POLLUTION: According to the Vermont law review (2012), air pollution as a result of gas flaring in the Niger Delta has remained a major cause of environmental degradation. According to the review, a global effect of gas flaring which transcend the shores of Nigeria is its contribution to global warming and ultimately climate change. The Vermont law review (2012) further stated that these flaring points in the Niger Delta area are always found close to places of residence and according to Alvarez and Paranhos (2012), exploration activities produces volatile gases which in areas of concentrated production could have substantial air quality effects. This proximity to homes according to Ugochukwu (2008) raises issues of human rights abuses and the need for efficient laws to control it in Nigeria. Potential Physical and health impacts of oil exploration in the Niger Delta according to EPA (2012a) includes formation of ground level ozone as a result of reaction between Methane and air, air toxics produced during crude oil breakdown can cause acid rain, Cancer, birth defects, neurological problems and other irreversible health effects.


Hamilton (2011) defined community as people with shared interest living together in one place while Ihejerika (2007) quoted in Adekola and Okogbule (2013) introduced the concept of sustainable development in a community as that development that meets the needs of the present community make up without compromising the efforts of future generations to meet their own needs. A community would therefore remain a community if it lives sustainably. Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (2008) further quoted by Adekola and Okogbule (2013) defined sustainable community development as the efficient planning and the corresponding use of available resources in such a way that it aids the capacity of the community to provide and maintain socio-economic growth, good health and quality of life; failure to therefore achieve this could lead to conflicts.

Collier and Hoffler (2002) quoted in Akinwale (2010) observes that natural resources considerably increases the chances of civil conflicts. According to Hamilton (2011), conflicts between oil companies and their communities in the Niger Delta always borders on issues such inadequate compensation for environmental damages caused by the oil companies operations, and inadequate social amenities as a form of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Furthermore, Hamilton (2011), observed that in the early days of exploration, when the hope of a better and developed Niger Delta was radiating on the faces of the people, there was a good company/community relationship. He pointed out further that as day become night and week becomes year, the communities started getting frustrated in the sight of growing hardship they have to cope with. This Frustration which according to Ntido (2013) grew in size and matured to what is today seen as militancy was as a result of issues the people summarized as environmental degradation (as a result of poor environmental management practices) by the Oil companies and neglect of their welfare and development (in the form of corporate social responsibilities) by the Oil companies. The Human Development Report (2006) quoted in Adekola and Okogbule (2013) observed that the neglect and disparity between host communities in the Niger Delta by oil companies is made more glaring with oil company’s staff living in estates that meet international standards with social and health facilities within and these estates are found within these communities. While not reeling out the blames on them, Marcelo and Ruth (2008) pointed out that Multinational’s oil companies operational strategies vary according to the host government’s constitutional constraints; collaborating with each other to protect and defend their interest as one.


Part of agitations from the Niger Delta host communities according to Ntido (2013) is born out of the Multinational oil companies’ failure to comply with International standards for environmental protection and management in the absence of efficient Standards and Laws in the Country. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), (2013), Environmental management system is defined as a set of processes and practices that enables an organisation to reduce its environmental impacts while at the same time increasing production efficiency.

Ntido (2013) further stated that poor operational practices and lack of monitoring have subjected the Environmental Management Systems put in place by these oil companies to questioning, especially when there is a weak monitoring system on the part of the government. And according to Alexandra (2012), there have been calls for the oil multinational companies to voluntarily adopt International standards and best practices such that promotes quality environmental standards in emerging economies like Nigeria in the absence of adequate environmental laws and enforcement. This according to him is because environmental laws are always inadequate in these regions and where it’s available, its most of the times inadequately enforced, hence a need for E&P companies to adopt international best practices in their operation. Figure 1 below is a diagrammatic representation of EMS:

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Source: Australian Government Civil Aviation Safety Authority, (2013)

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in 2008 gave a position statement on Environmental Management Systems, giving six main recommendations from which the following three were drawn out:

1) Organisations should put in place an EMS that is appropriate for improving their environmental and financial performance, and which is best suited to their operations taking into account the size, complexity, nature and risks of their activities.
2) Organisations implementing an EMS should consider the value of adopting a national or international standard or scheme, such as the international standard ISO 14001, the EU Eco Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) or the British Standard BS 8555.
3) Organisations should aim to integrate their EMS into all their business activities, secure senior management commitment and leadership and involve all levels of staff in the implementation and delivery of an EMS.


According to David (2011), an efficient firm provides benefits not only to shareholders, employees, suppliers and customers but also to the local communities in the form of job creation and provision of other social amenities. According to Thomsen (2012, the increase in oil demand means oil would have to be further drilled in more sensitive environments, leading to environmental issues between multinational companies and their host communities together with environmental activist, hence a need for multinationals to embed ethical behaviours in their operations. According to David (2011), the society sees CSR as a way of making the oil and gas companies do more to guard against their risks and impacts on the society other than mere compliance with laws.

According to Okoro (1996) cited in Hamilton (2011), lack or inadequate provision of social amenities to compensate for the environmental damages done the Niger Delta together with employment for their educated youths is one of the reasons oil companies face hostilities from their host communities. While according to Ugochukwu (2008), some of this oil companies such as Shell have been fair in their CSR responses, the host communities according to Hamilton (2011) see these multinationals as rich entities which should serve as an alternative to government in the production of amenities for them and as such should do more than they are doing. However, to Jederzej (2009), the effectiveness of the CSR ideas of the multinationals is increasingly being subjected to questioning especially when you assess the contribution of CSR from the society’s point of view. Ntido (2013) however said a genuine CSR would help foster better relationship between host communities and the Multinational Oil companies; creating a robust atmosphere for more financial profits and reputational gains also.

Jederzej (2009) noted that good CSR ideas might get impeded by conflicts which the Organisation might have either contributed to or drawn into. In the same vein, failure of the multinational companies to understand the proper need of the communities and integrate such into their CSR programme is another way by which good CSR plans turns out unacceptable to the host communities. Also, Ntido (2013) observed that while the oil companies believes they have less responsibility to the host communities after fulfilling their own part of the business to the body recognized by Law (the Federal government), the communities on the other expects the companies to foster good neighbour relationship by ploughing back to the communities.


The environment as broadly defined by the Australian Government Environment protection and biodiversity conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) includes the ecosystem and it constituents parts which includes people and their communities; it also includes both the physical and natural resources. They further include the characteristics and heritage values of places/communities as a part of the environment. The UNEP/GRID - Arendal (2012) observed that the resource available from the environment together with the services it renders is being degraded due to the pressure that’s constantly put on it.

In line with David (2011), Thomsen (2012), observed that though oil has led to increased economic benefits, it has also imposed significant cost on the society and such cost includes environmental pollution, injuries and death; it could also include secondary costs such as social dislocation and conflicts and therefore, with the expected social impacts of climate change according to Richard (2010) likely to include increased migration, underdevelopment and environmental degradation with the possibility of conflicts also arising, there’s need to ensure equity and fairness in the use of the environment. Conflicts and Social gaps in the Niger Delta of Nigeria according to Ntido (2013) are as a result of weak and oppressive Legal structures put in place by virtue of influenced legislations. According to him, early environmental laws enacted in Nigeria seems to undermine the development of the oil producing State, placing economic gains and selfish interest above human rights and safe living. Mary Robinson Foundation (2013), introducing justice system into issues of climate and the environment helps to create a link between human right and development thereby ensuring a human-based approach towards solving issues and guaranteeing that the pains and gains of climate change is shared by all and the rights of the vulnerable is protected. Ojakorotu (2009b) asked, “What does democracy do or fails to do about the welfare of Nigerians?” as the People should be stronger under democratic system of government.

This Human based approach is what the Niger Delta of Nigeria lacks and according to Hamilton (2011), rather dole out cash compensation, the oil companies should strive to protect the human rights of the people. He further pointed out the weakness of the Nigerian Judicial system which he calls one-sided and oppressive. According to the Royal Irish Academy (2013), Justice is believed to mean that which is fair, right and deserved, obtained when an action which is unfair is redressed; with Justice not forthcoming for the people of Niger Delta as a result of the great influence the oil companies wield on the enforcement agencies according to Hamilton (2011), there tendency to have conflicts.


Environmental Justice according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), (2012) corroborated by the National Institute of Environmental Health Science (NIEHS), (2013) is described as the just treatment and realistic involvement of everybody not minding their race, complexion, nationality or income level in the enacting, implementation and enforcement of laws, policies and regulations that has to do with the environment. According to NIEHS (2013), while the term environment refers to everything around us (air, water and land) including homes and our work place, the word justice means equality for everyone; they therefore state Environmental Justice to mean equality in everything around us. EPA (2012b) further explain just treatment to mean a situation where no group of people bears the brunt of environmental impacts caused by actions of government, multinationals or any other organisation, likewise, realistic involvement of everybody according to EPA (2012b) means a situation where the people are involved in decision making process and their voice heard on issues that has to do with their environment devoid of any form of discrimination or bias. Establishing the distribution and transfer of resources within and between generations as the relationship between Environmental Justice and Sustainable development, Patrick and Philippe (1996), further states that there’s a link between human rights and environmental justice The concept behind Environmental Justice according to The California Energy Commission (2013) is that everybody regardless of their race enjoys equal high standard of environmental standards notwithstanding where they live, especially in such areas where residents are subject to environmental hazards as a result of an organisation’s operations; areas generally viewed as minority zone and also areas where residents do not enjoy effective or efficient implementation of environmental policies and laws. A briefing developed by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Friends of the Earth (2011) observed that the meeting point for social injustice and environmental problems is Environmental Justice. The briefing further observed that though environmental justice is the solution to social injustices, it presents a new idea and perspective to solving salient issues that has to do with the environment due to the fact that it emphasises the need for the poor, women and children (which most of the time suffer the impacts of environmental damage the most) to have access to a good environment and quality of life.


Nigeria, a former colony of Britain gained her independence in the year 1960 to become a federation composed of three main regions North, East and West with Lagos as the Nation’s capital and became a republic in 1963, breaking every tie with British governance and joining the commonwealth countries (Razaq, 2004). However the civil rule of the then president Nnamdi Azikwe was toppled by the military in 1966 and since then till 1999, Nigeria never enjoyed a stable democratic rule as a result of military coups having being ruled for 28 years. Nigeria operates a political structure similar to the United States, having a bi-camera legislature, 36 states created from the initial 3 regions and also forming 6 geo-political zones of South-West, South- South, South-East, North-Central, North-East and North-West (Lauren, 2008).

Military rule is not endemic to Nigeria alone as Africa between 1963 and 2000 had above 90 successful military interventions (Ibikunle, 2012); Military intervention or coups in Nigeria governance system is similar to W.F Gutteridge’s remarks as it relates to coup d’etats in Africa as quoted in Henry, (1978) “the phenomenon of violent seizure of power is now of significance...than what is done with it once it’s seized” as Nigeria witnessed periods of developmental Military rule in the early years but the corruption and impunity of subsequent Military rulers witnessed by a larger percentage of present day Nigerians makes the memories of the good old days more of tales than realities (Ogbeidi 2012).


Nigeria has since 1999 returned to democratic system of government however effects of prolonged Military rule in the country is still evident in her political structure and system with some constant display of militarized political powers by Civilians which were never in the military (Etim and Wilfred, 2012). The preference of force to dialogue by Political leaders as seen in Odi and Zaki Biam villages’ invasion during the President Obasanjo regime, Increasing fight with the insurgents in the North and reoccurring battle with the Niger Delta Militants are some examples which also includes frequent disobedience of court orders and authoritarianism (Ibikunle, 2012). The history of corruption and unpatriotic leadership (chiefly the major reason for under development in the world’s 8th highest producer of oil) left by the Military governments has almost been matched by the Political class. Even with anti-graft agencies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Corruption has been on the winning side, the laws and constitution of the country were handed down by the Military who never lived by laws and Constitutions (Ogbeidi, 2012).


William Pitt quoted in Ogbeidi, (2012) said “Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it; and this I know, my lords: that where laws end, tyranny begins”, and according to Ogbeidi (2012), the seemingly weakness of Nigeria constitution and legal systems especially to effectively tackle the problem of environmental pollution in the Niger Delta can largely be traced to its being a product of the military governments which practically shows little or no regards to law and rules by decrees,). Polazzo (2013) stated that between 1914 when Nigeria had her first constitution and 1999 when the last one was introduced, Nigeria has had eight constitutions aimed at laying down pathway for the administration of the country, however none of the constitutions has been able to meet up with the challenges of running the Nations as most including the 1999 constitution are products of the Military leaders. According to Vermont Law Review (2012), The legislative arm of government on assumption of duties since 1999 has also favoured economic gains to patriotism in them being more interested in oil wealth rather than the sustainable development of the production areas and communities, making Nigeria environmental laws weak and leaving the Judicial arm with no effective law to enhance trials. Orji (2012) further stated that the protection of citizen’s rights such as rights and sustainable development rest solely on the political will of government and also on the power as enshrined in the law codes but then the 1999 constitution is of non-justiciable nature, making difficult for citizens to legally compel the government on sustainability and environmental protection.



It’s important to make known the difference between the Research Method and the Research Methodology. While Research methods relates to the way and techniques used in conducting the research (its objective is to find solutions to the stated problems), Research methodology has to do with the correct procedures to get the solution (learning of the various ways through which the research can be conducted (Ansari, 2008).


The purpose of this research work is to show how lack of effective law enforcement and Justice System in Nigeria has contributed in a large way to the degradation of the Niger Delta environment through pollution, this chapter therefore describes the research methodology used in ensuring that the research objectives stated in chapter one of this research work are met. These research objectives are stated below:

- Critically analyse the impacts of environmental pollution on (host) communities.
- Describe and document the implications of environmental pollution on the reputation of multinational companies from a critical point of view (Litigations).
- Evaluate the impact of militancy on the Nigeria government.
- Provide recommendations on environmental laws for the future.

The need to maintain standards in the operations of Oil Multinational Companies, Protection of environment and also updating existing environmental laws and regulations can’t be overemphasised. Apart from the fact that impacts of these companies on the environment inhibits the ability of the environment to regenerate itself, these impacts also manifest themselves in areas outside their source of generation as the environment has no known political boundary. Hence, the importance of viable Laws and effective judicial system aimed at ensuring the protection of not only the environment but also life and property; this is why this research work is important. Research are means of finding important information on a topic using a systematic and scientific approach (LIMAT, 2013). A research helps to among other things to:

(a) Review existing knowledge.

(b) Make investigation into an existing issue.

(c) Chart a new course or create a new system. (Collis and Hussey, 2008).

For this research, qualitative analysis of data especially literature relevant to the research topic would be used to assess the relationship between environmental degradation, law and justice using militancy in the Niger Delta of Nigeria as a case study. The research will be using qualitative data in its analysis because qualitative data is flexible and ensures that replication is made difficult as the research process is made particular and definite (Harvard University, 2013). A case study is chosen so as to have an in-depth description of the study


Due to the sensitivity of the Niger Delta region together with the security issue associated with militancy, this research work would be carried out using data and information gathered from personal interview carried out by the researcher combined with literature review of most importantly, rights-based environmental degradation and legislation literatures together with observations made. Interview questions and discussions will be centred around the sources of environmental degradation and how effective government institutions has been alongside what the people see as probable solution to the issue of militancy in the region. By the human right approach ensures that people can make necessary contributions when decisions that affect their livelihood are taken and therefore helps to address the legislative flaws and policies discrimination which makes it impossible for citizens to hold their government accountable (DFID, 2000). Likewise, the UNICEF right based approach to water pollution emphasises that pollution of water violates human rights.

This research work aims to:

- critically analyse the impacts of environmental pollution on (host) communities:

According to DFID (2000), framework shows the path and principle to deal with issues relating to development and right related issues as the violation of one right most times affects the respect of some other right e.g. living in a degradable environment has the tendency to impact human health as such an environment can influence the outbreak of diseases and ultimately cause death, a relationship between the right to a clean environment and right to life. These environmental pollution impacts on the communities and the people’s rights will be analysed using data and information gathered from the semi-structured interview to be carried out. Also, relevant research literatures would be used.

- Describe and document the implications of environmental pollution on the reputation of multinational companies from a critical point of view (militancy):

environmental degradation caused by any multinational oil company would ultimately affect their reputation as it could lead to litigations as well as protests by rights groups. This research would therefore look into some of the ways by which the reputations of these multinationals could get affected ranging from the financial aspect as it concerns payment of compensations to how it challenges their compliance with best practices. Also, it will take a look at how far the issue of militancy has gone in affecting the efficiency of these companies as well as the safety of their staff and equipment. This would be done by using reviewing relevant research documents, internet information and journals on the activities of these companies to determine the extent to which militant attacks have affected them ranging from kidnap and death of their staff to destruction of their equipment and oil platforms.

- Evaluate the impact of militancy on the Nigeria government: Oil remains the major source of revenue for the Nigerian state; therefore, any action that can jettison the flow of revenue through oil would impact greatly on the Nigeria economy. This Research work would therefore describe in what way the sabotage acts by the Niger Delta Militants has impacted the Nigeria Government both in finances and in Security. This objective would be achieved using past research literatures and relevant documents on the activities of militants in Nigeria.
- Provide recommendations on environmental laws for the future: with the introduction of right based approach to the issue of environmental degradation, there's a need to change how courts view and approach issues that has to do with the environment. However, these changes won’t come except with adequate laws as observed in the literature review that in the absence of adequate laws and legal structures, operations of multinational oil companies has the tendency of falling below best practices. Providing environmental laws for the future would not only ensure that the present generation has a choice on how to live in their world but also ensure that the living is sustainable (Bollier, 2009). With relevant up to date laws and policies stipulating the consequence of acts of sabotage by either the MOCs or the Militants, the Niger Delta and its environment will be cleaner, safer and more economically viable.


An interview can be defined as a constructive discussion which is based on purpose between two or more people (Ochuko, 2011); it’s useful because it helps researchers obtain valid research-relevant data. Interview for this research work will be semi-structured, taking the form of personal interactions and face to face encounters. Due to the security and logistics issues associated with the Niger Delta, 15 indigenes will be randomly selected through the help of an interview guide. 5 men and 10 women interviewed comprising of 7 from Warri (Delta State) and 8 from Mahintedo (Ondo State); with the youngest age limit being 28years to ensure that interviewees have an idea of militancy as it affects the Niger Delta. Although the Niger Delta agitations has been on for a long time, violent activities of the militants did not come to bare until around 2001. Hence, the age limit of 28years will ensure that the youngest interviewee would at that time be at least 16years and therefore has knowledge of the topic. Mahintedo in Ondo State and Warri in Delta State were selected for this research work because they are areas in states with arguably one of the least (Ondo State) and most (Delta State) environmentally degradable states in the Niger Delta. Interview discussion will be reported in my field notes and I will also make use of personal observations. More women will be chosen than men because men in the Niger Delta region are observably less impacted than women. Women in this region have more responsibility viz: taking care of their children and the family, farming etc. they feel the impacts of environmental degradation than the men. There’s a belief in Nigeria that Niger Delta men are lazy as an average man from the region would sit at home to drink while the wife goes to fish or farm. The Interview will be carried out in the common local dialect known as “pidgin English”; although semi-structured, the interview discussion were fashioned in line with knowledge already gotten from relevant studies and researcher observations and will take the form below:

1. AGE OF THE INTERVIEWEE - this is to ensure that the interviewee is in the right age bracket to understand the Niger Delta agitations as it affects the environment.

2. DID THE INTERVIEWEE RELOCATE OR IS AN INDIGENE - this was chosen as part of the interview discussion because an average Niger Delta is known to pride in their community and the resources.
3. WHAT ARE THE MAJOR OBSERVABLE ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS - some environmental problems experienced in the Niger Delta are not directly traceable to the activities of the oil explorations. It is therefore important to sieve out the major ones, with the word major, it would be streamlined to those related to oil activities.
4. WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF THESE PROBLEMS ON THEM AND THEIR ECONOMIC WELL BEINGS - restiveness and other issues being experienced in the Niger Delta has been widely reported to be as a result of impacts of these oil related environmental problems. It is therefore important to confirm from the indigenes.
5. WHAT OR WHO DO THEY THINK ARE THE CAUSES OF THESE ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS - while different publications has reported sabotage and theft as the major cause of these issues, indigenes continues to claim its years of neglect on the path of both the government and the oil companies.
8. HAS THESE AGITATIONS (for a cleaner and safer Niger Delta, resource control and increased allocations) BY THE MILITANTS CHANGED THEIR LOTS FOR THE BETTER?


Self-observation as a mode of data collection for this research work was important to as to ensure fairness as interviewees may be talking out of sentiments either to their community because of what they have felt. Observation was made both of the environment and the interviewee. According to Saunders et al (2003) quoted in Ochuko, (2011), assuming and observer role, especially a complete observer’s role would help the researcher not condition the behaviour of the research object, in this case, the interviewee.


For the purpose of this research work, I will seek the approval of the youth leader of these communities and also if chanced a militant leader so as to allow for a level of safety during the interview sessions and also do away with any wrong conceptions about the purpose of the interview and the research work. Also, I will promise to make the interviews as confidential as possible and also not involve their pictures (if allowed to take) in any part of the research work but for my personal use. This is to ensure that I gain their confidence and also allow them to bare their minds without fear.


Nigeria is called giant of Africa, not only because of her population, the most populous black nation but also because its blessed with enormous resources, chief of which is oil found in the southern part of the country, a region which is also known as the Niger Delta region. The name Niger Delta is used to qualify the nine states in the southern part of the country where oil is produced. This region is regarded as the Country’s gateway to wealth, however, the level of poverty and neglect being suffered by the local indigenes especially those who live in the proper creeks where oil is being produced is in sharp contrast to the revenue the government and the business boom that the multinational companies is accruing from the said region.

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Figure 2 showing the Niger Delta states of Nigeria (Source: Niger Delta Working Group News (2012)

While a lot has been written about environmental degradation as a result of oil exploration both in and outside Nigeria, not very much has created a link between environmental justice and community members driven conflict, hence the reason for militancy in Nigeria as a case study. The researcher believes this research work would help create another view point towards stemming the tides of resource driven conflicts especially in the developing countries. Resource driven conflicts not only lead to destruction of live and properties but also its impacts on the country’s revenue generation and image cannot be overemphasized; Multinational companies have had to deal with issues ranging from kidnappings leading to payment of ransoms, ‘settling’ of different militia groups and well as hiring both government and private security guards which has increased their operational costs. Frustration of the people of the Niger Delta arising from environmental degradation, underdevelopment stemming poverty, what they see legislations aimed at further disempowering them as well as insensitivity by successive Nigerian governments and the Multinationals has led to the rise in militancy (Aminu, 2013). Therefore, with some criminals under the guise of militancy holding both the government and multinationals to ransom (Kimiebi, 2011), this research work believes that addressing the root of the original militants through effective laws (amending the existing laws to meet up with the challenges of today as well as enacting new laws) and fast judicial system which will guarantee the protection of both rights and the environment of the most vulnerable (women, children most importantly) would help reduce if not out-rightly put a stop to the insecurity in the region.


The restraints of this research work arise from the level of insecurity in the creeks of the Niger Delta region which limited data collection for the research to the use of literature review. Another limitation is the issue of accessibility as the most degraded communities and areas of oil exploration are in the creeks and in the few accessible places were cultural issues which requires researcher to take permission from either the community leader or from a militant before speaking to their subjects even though these people welcome the idea of coming to help solve their problems. However, this research work is open for further research which having a longer research time frames and proper logistics can overcome these limitations.



Chapter three showed the methodological approach this research work was going to adopt. The use of semi structured interview and relevant books and earlier research analysis. This chapter shows the breakdown of the gathered data with respect to the research work; information garnered from discussions with selected indigenes of some areas being affected by environmental degradation and other works related to this research work.


Results obtained from the interviews carried out by the researcher in Warri, Delta State and Mahintedo in Ondo State suggest the same issue being faced by residents of the Niger Delta States. However, all the interviewees states the major channel of environmental degradation in the Niger Delta remains Oil spill and Gas Flaring associated with Oil production and also, they stated their grievances in the lack of government institution’s will to support them. For example, a youth interviewed agreed that the excesses of the militants is much, he still insisted that they’re fighting a just cause.


As earlier stated in chapter three, the interviewee were randomly selected on the advice of the interview guides at the two communities visited. Table 4.1 below shows the study size.

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More females were chosen over males due to the fact that they feel the impacts of this environmental degradation more than men as stated earlier in chapter three. The number of women interviewed to men represents a percentage of 66.66% to 33.33%.

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Representation of interviewees Distribution by gender


The interviewees cut across different sectors and groups in the Niger Delta, ranging from artisans and students to fishermen. Although the upper age limit was not set, the lower age limit was set at 28years. Table 4.2 below presents the socio-demographic representation of the interviewees.

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In all, the interviewees were comprised of 2 Fis hermen, 3 Students, 6 traders (t hat sells fish, farm produce and cafeteria operator), 1 motor-boat mechanic, 2 full time house wives and 1 job applicant.


As earlier stated, the interview was carried out in the form of a one-on-one discussion with the interviewee, this was to ensure that the interviewees doesn’t exercise any form of fear and allows for an atmosphere of freedom. The discussions as stated in chapter three was structured in as follows:



On question 3, all those interviewed agreed that the major environmental issues in the area are oil spills, waste discharges and gas flaring. However, some stated that part of their environmental problems also includes sea level rise and flooding as they had a devastating experience sometimes in 2012.


65% of those interviewed indicated that problems have more effects on their economy as whatever happens to their economic ability ultimately affects them. The effects on their economic ability happens to be the impacts of environmental degradation on farming and fishing. This they said has led to unemployment and some of their children dropping schools. This assertion corroborates with what the remaining 35% sees as the major effects of environmental degradation which are unemployment, increased crime waves, health issues amongst others.


The major causes of their issues according to the indigenes are the multinational oil companies being aided by unfavourable policies and corrupt monitoring bodies. This assertion by the people as corroborated with Amnesty International’s press release on the issue of oil spill in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, indicting the oil companies most especially SHELL and the existing laws in Nigeria (Amnesty International, 2013).


They all agreed that there’s a link between the state of their environment and militancy. The youths believe that if there are employment opportunities nobody would prefer the risks of being a militant. Rather most would be at their workplace and probably step up their paper agitations and activism.

80% of the women interviewed agreed that there would probably have been no militants if their environment is not bad. They said their children are skilled in fishing and farming but there’s no place to direct their skills and energy.


About 85% of the people interviewed believed the militants are fighting a just cause which is, the protection of their environment and ensuring that they are well taken care of since the law and the government won’t protect them. The remaining 15% believed the agitation is more of a self-enriching and money making venture rather than a common fight going by the way the series of kidnaps and oil facilities blow up. However, they all agreed that miscreants and criminals have watered the influence and the impacts of the real agitators.


While some of the people believe that militancy has helped raise the awareness of major player to the plight of the Niger Delta indigenes, a larger percentage believes that militancy has brought more harm than good. It has brought a bad name for the region, causing more loss than gains to the militants, the government and the multinational oil companies.


All the people interviewed agreed that the issue of militancy has led to an increased commitment by all involved.


The general recommendation to solving the issues on ground remains compensation for their environment, change in laws and policies to allow them control over their resources and provision of basic amenities to cushion the effects of multinational oil companies’ activities.

The results obtained from the semi-structured interview and relevant literatures reviewed is framed below and it is upon this framed work that these issues are further discussed in this chapter.

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Table 4.3: framework for Result discussion


The Niger Delta region of Nigeria is a coastal environment which occupies an area of about 75,000 km2 with a coastline of about 540 km and a population of around 31.2 million people, making it the 3rdlargest wetland in the world (Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, 2013).

From Natural resources to Human resources, Nigeria’s Niger Delta remains one of the most resourceful delta regions of the world (Samson and Lucky, 2009). Due to its geographical proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, it is an economically viable region even prior to the creation of the Nigerian State as it served as a major export zone for fish and salt and also was the largest slave trade channel in West Africa around the 18th Century (Stepping Stones Nigeria, 2013). Home to all oil and gas activities in Nigeria, the Niger Delta is pivotal to the economic stability of Nigeria as the Country’s main source of revenue is oil and oil related activities.

Originally, the people of the Niger Delta were occupationally involved in farming, fishing, gin distillation, boat making and water transport business. However with the discovery of oil and the activities associated with oil exploration and production impacting their environment, occupational activities and lifestyles, the people of Niger Delta now struggle with impoverishment, degraded and polluted environment, lost biodiversity and aquatic lifestyle with pipelines laid across farms, waterways and fishing grounds (Samson and Lucky, 2009). Not only does the region suffer from impacts of oil activities, climate change impacts on the Niger Delta has also been profound; with increasing temperature resulting in sea level rise which has been responsible for coastal erosion in the region, change in rainfall pattern and recently in 2012, a serious flooding of the area (Akinro et al, 2008).

In sharp contrast to the enormous wealth embedded in the region, the Niger Delta of Nigeria remains the most underdeveloped part of Nigeria owing to the fact that both the multinational oil companies and the Federal Government continuously evade their responsibilities to the region (Stepping Stones Nigeria, 2013). Painfully, the most affected by the devastating impacts of multinational oil companies’ activities together with climate change are women and children (Etiosa and Anthony, 2007). Apart from having to cope with environmental pollution and climate change alongside child upkeep, Niger Delta women are also caught up in the ensuing conflict in the region with some forced into prostitution and some exposed to rape and some other social vices (Edlyn, 2012).

Editorial note. This figure was removed due to copyright issues.

Figure 3 showing Life in the Niger Delta Creeks (Source: Voice of America, 2012)



Exploration and production of crude oil in the Niger Delta region has ever since its production led to varying degrees of environmental issues for the region. Even though it occupies less just about 5% of the available land in the region, environmental impacts of oil production companies on the region is unquantifiable and do not seem to be reducing (Eregha and Irughe, 2009). This section will be discussing these oil related environmental issues. OIL SPILL

Oil spills have for years remained a thorn in the flesh of people in the Niger Delta especially those living in the coastal communities, causing the devastation of what used to be the fertile land and productive waters of the region. When oil spills, it spreads faster than assumed and covers areas beyond its source (e.g. the Idoho oil spill occurred in Akwa Ibom State but travelled as far as Lagos State) leading therefore to devastating environmental conditions (Nwilo and Badejo, 2012).

Unguarded activities of oil companies have resulted in quite a number of oil spills in the Niger Delta area with reports available from the Nigeria’s Department for Petroleum Resources claiming that a total of 4,647 incidents led to the spilling of close to 2,369,470

barrels of oil into the Niger Delta environment between the years 1976 and 1996, likewise about 2,097 spills were recorded between 1997 and 2001 (Badejo and Nwilo 2006). Reports from Shell Petroleum Development Company claimed that about 70% of oil which spilled from their facilities is as a result of third party interference on their equipment. However, they accepted the remaining spills were as a result of operational, equipment failures and human errors (SPDC, 2011); this poses a question of how well their operations meet up with best practices

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Figure 3 & 5 showing an oil installation on bonny water way and in a village in the Niger Delta Creeks (Source: Global Post, 2011)

While reports put daily average loss to the environment to be around 93.9 barrels, worst cases could be as high as 712 barrels of oil per day. Some of the major spills in the Niger Delta are highlighted below

(a) Mobil (Qua Iboe) Oil Spill: this spill was caused in 1998 due to leakages from a 1971 installed pipeline connecting Idoho’s platform of Mobil Oil with its onshore terminal (Qua Iboe). This incident reportedly resulted in the spilling of about 40,000 barrels of crude oil covering a distance of about 200km (Aghalino and Eyinla, 2009).
(b) The GOCON’s Escravos incident in the year 1978 which led to the spilling of about 300,000 barrels of oil (Nwilo and Badejo, 2012).
(c) A tank failure at the SPDC’s terminal in Forcados in the year 1978 causing the spillage of about 580,000 barrels of oil.
(d) A blow out of Texaco’s Funiwa-5 oil well in 1980 leading to the spillage of 400,000 barrels of oil into the Niger Delta marine environment: the spill continued for 12 days before an eventual outbreak of fire. About 180 people were reported dead in a village (Aghalino and Eyinla, 2009).

Other seemingly small spills includes the Shell operated Bonga field 2011 oil spill in which about 40,000 barrels of oil was spilled, the Jesse incident in which led to about 1000 deaths, about 40,000 barrel Idoho oil spill amongst others (Aghalino and Eyinla, 2009).

Oil spills pose a great threat to the Niger Delta, a threat capable of leading to annihilation of both human and ecosystem as the people of the region daily struggle to live under the impacts of these spills. Farmlands has been destroyed, marine life has been lost implying therefore that the farmers and fishermen would have to find other work to do as they can no longer engage in productive agricultural business (Nwilo and Badejo, 2012). Majority of those who live in the creeks depend on the swamps as their water source however, the swamps are fast becoming dangerous to their health as a UNDP report (2006) referred to in Eregha and Irughe, (2009) observed that while about 69% of spills occur offshore, an approximate percentage of 25% is spilled into swamps, an indication that what gets passed on to coming generations is polluted water and environment.

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Figure 6 & 7 showing locals getting water from oil polluted River (Source: YNaija, 2012)

The Niger Delta is mainly made up of mangrove vegetation, covering over 8,000km2 of land; it is also made up of swamp forest and rainforest making it one of the largest mangroves in the world and the largest in Africa (Eregha and Irughe, 2009). This Mangrove forest provides a major life support system not only for the inhabitants but for the entire aquatic ecosystem, products such as sea foods (providing according to reports about 60% of the fish in the Gulf of Guinea), dyes, woods and timbers alongside services such as productive coral reefs (Zabbey, 2009). However, oil activities in the Niger Delta region has led to the near loss of this important support system. Aside uncontrolled logging and deforestation towards expansion of the oil industry, oil spills and oil spill induced fire disasters have destroyed the once productive mangrove forest; an example is the 3 day fire disaster at Okirika in Rivers State in 2004 which led to the death of plants and animals in the area (Owolabi, 2012).

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Figure 8 & 9 showing degraded farmlands in the Niger Delta (Source: Nairaland, 2011) GAS LEAK AND FLARING

In a world with changing climate, Nigeria remains pivotal to reducing the rate at which the climate is changing. Apart from the fact that much of her citizenry, especially those in the Niger Delta are more vulnerable to climate change and impacts, her contribution to total gas emission is significant, as Nigeria is responsible for as high as 17.2% of the global gas flared (Thaddeus et.al, 2011). In Nigeria today, there are about 123 gas flaring sites spread across the oil producing Niger Delta States and daily giving off close to 2billion cubic feet of gas (Etiosa and Anthony, 2007). Not only does gas flaring affect the Niger Delta through climate change impacts such as sea level rise, rainfall patterns change and flooding, its immediate effects are also enormous and devastating.

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Figure 10 showing Percentage global gas flared (Source: Ugochukwu, 2008)

According to Zabbey (2009), gas flared at the Izombe flow station in Imo state is responsible for 100% loss in crop yield on cultivated lands about 200meters away from it and a 45% loss in yield on cultivated lands about 600meters away from it. With most of the villagers being either farmers or fishermen and oil installations near either their homes or farmlands, food crisis is imminent in the Niger Delta region where food prices are already on the high side. Gas Flaring is thought to be responsible for the high case of acid rain corroding the roofing sheets of houses in the Niger Delta, these invariably increases the economic hardship on the people as there would always be need to change the roofs (Ugochukwu, 2008). The proximity of these flaring sites to home has also remained a source of concern as the people suffers from high ambient temperature, so also is the incidence of varying degrees of health issues such as breathing problems and birth defects (Etiosa and Anthony, 2007). Flaring has constantly been a waste of resources and wealth in the Niger Delta, replacing it with health issues and threatening the sustainability of the region (Social Action, 2009).

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Figure 11: showing a gas flaring site (Source: Guardian, 2011)

Editorial note: This figure was removed due to editorial reasons

Figure 12 showing more of gas flaring site (Source: Social Action, 2009)


As explained above, environmental degradation resulting from oil exploration negatively impacts the Niger Delta environment, making life unbearable for the local indigent communities (loss of farmland and fish sites, air pollution) and life that depends on them for supplies (for goods and services). The people of Niger Delta like believe that the massive environmental degradation of the area largely contributes to the socio-economic deprivation of the region (UNDP, 2006). Some of these rippled effects are identified below:

A. INCREASING UNEMPLOYMENT: The destruction of the major employer(s) of labour and source of economic strength in the Niger Delta means an alarming increase in joblessness in the region (Eregha and Irughe, 2009). The fact that some of the agrarian land would be useless for as long as 25 - 30 years according to Clarke (2008) means that a lot of people will remain jobless for that long, hence, the need to get engaged in some other work to make ends meet. The relationship between environment and development means that there cannot be meaningful development in a degraded environment and when the active age group are unemployed there cannot be realistic development (Joseph et al, 2013).
B. LOW HUMAN CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT: Majority of the Niger Delta indigenes lack basic amenities such as access to good health infrastructures and school. Oil related activities in the Niger Delta means that lots of schools in the creek have to be shut down owing to the destruction of some of the schools structures and where available, the teachers refuse postings to the rural areas as some of the schools are only accessible by boats (Posigba, 2010). According to a World Bank report quoted in Etiosa and Anthony (2009), education in the Niger Delta is below average and is worse with the women folk. With unemployment ravaging the youthful age group and the inability to meet up with the human capital development of the region, the Niger Delta indigenes find other ways to make ends meet e.g. hawking and begging (Murdock, 2012).
C. POVERTY: Lack of employment and inadequate human capacity development has increased the vulnerability of the people to poverty. Hunger in the Niger Delta is not only because there’s no food but where available, the price is beyond the reach of the common populace (Eregha and Irughe, 2009), an example is the fish barbecue sold for N1,500 (approximately £6.0) in other parts of the country is sold for about N2,500 (approximately £10) in Port Harcourt; even higher than Lagos. This high cost of living is incident on the presence of Multinational oil companies which people believe would usher in wealth but while the staff of these companies can afford this high cost of living, the indigenes cannot; a reason why according to the World Bank, GNP per capita in the Niger Delta is less than the National average (Etiosa and Anthony, 2007). Poverty increases the vulnerability of the Niger Delta people more because they bear the pains of the environmental changes and have fewer choices to make due to their social and economic exclusion (UNDP, 2006).
D. INCREASING SOCIAL VICES AND CRIME: The need to make ends meet means an increasing insecurity in the Niger Delta as able bodied young men and women try to make a living and also cater for their immediate family through dubious means. The youth inadvertently go into dangerous crimes such as armed robbery, oil theft, kidnapping, to mention but a few (Eregha and Irughe, 2009). Young girls are also lured into different sexual vices, this account for the high rate of prostitution among girls in Niger Delta region (Michael and Chikouemeka, 2012). Also, issues of inter and intra community conflicts are borne out of royalty and commissions paid by the multinational oil companies, some of which are paid to the assumed strongest youth groups or communities, these conflicts which are resultant effect of joblessness and poverty ultimately lead to destruction of lives and properties of these poor people (Eregha and Irughe, 2009).
E. MULTIPLIER HEALTH AND DISEASES EFFECTS: Oil production and oil related activities in the Niger Delta have largely increased the susceptibility of the people of the region. Air, water and land pollution from oil production has been linked to some of the health problems prevalent in the region e.g. respiratory problem such as leukaemia is closely following malaria and diarrhoea to take the position of third major health problem in the Niger Delta with cholera ravaging more in the creeks; therefore with few and expensive health care facilities in the Niger Delta, the poor and most vulnerable are at high risk (UNDP, 2006). HIV/AIDS prevalent in the Niger Delta is about the highest in the country, higher than the country’s national average with women and young people recording the highest number of cases (UNDP, 2006). Prevalence of HIV/AIDS is observably higher in parts where there is oil production because sex hawkers migrate to such areas in search of “customers” as these areas are seen as fertile grounds to make quick money. These “customers” include foreign oil expatriates, soldiers and mobile policemen that serve as security men (Eregha and Irughe, 2009). HIV/AIDS however has the tendency to heighten poverty in the Niger Delta as those infected (majorly the active age group) due to inadequate health services eventually die resulting in the loss of productive human capital needed to develop individual families and the region at large (UND, 2006).


Nigeria as a developing Nation derives her economic strength from foreign exchange largely supported by oil sale, and thus successive governments try to sustain the activities of the present MOCs while also attracting some other foreign investment. This drive many a times, makes them set up policies without due regard to the eventual environmental and human impacts of such policies and the overall effect on the health and wellbeing of the citizenry (ICJ, 2012). This section discusses the Nigerian Environmental Laws as it affects oil production and the relevant judicial system. This is with the intent of identifying where gaps and lapses are in obtaining justice for the constant environmental crimes perpetrated by the MOCs in the Niger Delta. THE JUDICIARY AND ENVIRONMENTAL LITIGATIONS

According to Audrey Gaughran quoted in Amnesty International (2009) “the Oil Companies have been exploiting Nigeria’s weak regulatory system for too long. They do not adequately prevent environmental damage and they frequently fail to properly address the devastating impact that their bad practice has on people’s lives”, a reason why oil has become more of a curse than a blessing to the people of the Niger Delta today. By regulatory system, Audrey was not just referring to the laws alone but also the necessary enforcement of the Laws. Legislation remains an important instrument in achieving responsible and sustainable use of the environment, reasonable legislation could help plan and chart a reliable way forward towards pollution free Niger Delta.

An important feature of environmental policies and law is the fact that it evolves to meet each present environmental challenges, priorities and values (Ladan, 2004). The fact that International courts have been giving injunctions and judgements with respect to MOCs activities in the Niger Delta e.g. SERAP vs. Federal Republic of Nigeria (Court of Justice of Ecowas, December 2012) when Nigeria courts are not implies the importance of laying as much emphasis on enforcement as legislation, just as Ihekoronye (2013), points out that the strength of laws and policies is in the enforcement. However, of more concern to the Judiciary in Nigeria are civil and Political litigation at the expense of environmental case due to the fact that the former attracts more attention and forgetting that environmental cases attract increasing loss of lives and properties (Okafor, 2011).

With the coming of Civil rule in 1999, Nigerians particularly the Niger Delta people believed respite will come their way as the country was going to move from the era of decrees to properly legislated Acts (Zabbey, 2009). However, 14 years after the events in the Niger Delta keep taking new turns as judicial system in Nigeria particularly as it concerns the environment still appear to be at the mercy of some corporate entities and individuals who manipulate it for their own gains. Dispensation of justice in the formal courts takes so long, some could be as long as 10 years in the High Court and if the loser decides to proceed to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, it further lengthens the time to get Justice on the matter (Francis et al, 2011).

Zabbey (2009) further stated that failure to get fairness and Justice led to distrust and lack of confidence in the judicial system (unnecessarily long court cases) as it affects the environment and hence, the resolve by the people to get justice through other means such as international courts (as seen in the case of Ken Saro-Wiwa and 8 other Ogoni martyrs vs. Shell in the United States) or violently (militancy). In fairness, the courts cannot be totally blamed as lack of political will by the government to enforce and implement court decisions largely as a result of undue influence by the MOCs and their home government can be worrisome. E.g. a very important judgement in a suit (FHC/CS/153/2005) between Jonah Gbemre & Iwherekan Community of Delta State vs. Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Attorney General of Nigeria could have changed the face of gas flaring in the Niger Delta but years after, the judgement has not been implemented (Zabbey, 2009). OIL PRODUCTION, LAWS AND REGULATIONS

Environmental laws in Nigeria refer to rules and regulation whose objective is to safeguard the environment from pollution and ensure sustainability through the prevention of wasteful depletion of available natural resources (Ladan, 2004). The Nigerian Constitution for example stated that “the State shall protect and improve the environment and safeguard the water, air and land, forest and wildlife of Nigeria”. Access to Justice through review of relevant laws, judicial process and enforcement is therefore an important decimal towards achieving a lasting peace in the Niger Delta Region. For the purpose of this research work, some of these laws are discussed below in two sub-sections; Rights and ownership laws land Impacts/Environmental laws.


Early years of mining in Nigeria by virtue of the Mining Regulations (Oil) Ordinance of 1907, vested rights of ownership of resources on the locals and individuals on whose land the resource is found. The ordinance reads thus “It shall be lawful for the Governor to enter into an agreement with any Native Authority for the purchase of full and exclusive rights in and over all mineral oils within and under any lands which are the property of any Native Community”, (Botchway, 2011). However, upon gaining independence in 1960, the 1963 constitution vested the ownership of resources (oil) in the State and that has remained enshrined in every constitution of the Country till date. Section 44 (3), 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states that the government statutorily owns oil and every resource in the country together with how revenues from such a resource would be shared (nassnig, 1999). Relevant acts such as the Land (Title vesting etc.) Act 1975 - 1975, the Land Use Act 1978, Petroleum Control Act 1967, Petroleum Act 1969 was also enacted in line with this constitutional provision. Petroleum Act 1969 specifically stated fair treatment and reasonable compensation for land on which resources are found however, past military government administrations had derivation intended for the development of resource produce areas including the Niger Delta as low as 1%; and although the 1999 constitution stipulates a 13% derivation for the oil producing states, the people are clamouring for a 50% derivation (Ako, 2010). Before the recent amendment of the Land use Act, it ingloriously exempts the courts from taking regular jurisdiction on cases that has to do with land use for oil and oil related activities rather, the Land use and Allocation committee was vested with such litigation and the negative effect of this has tolled on the Niger Delta people for so long (Ako, 2010). This institutional imbalance in Laws as it affects oil Production has thus resulted into intra and inter communal clashes as to who owns what and who gets what.

B. Environmental Laws

Several laws, policies and Acts setting up and regulating agencies have been set up in Nigeria to check the impacts of oil production and oil related activities on the environment. Some of these laws such as Sections 183 and 191 of the Penal code and also Section 245 of the Criminal code (which criminalises public nuisance, polluting of waters such as streams, springs etc.) were enacted as strict as having them in the criminal codes which applies not only to Federal but to states and local governments too (Ajayi, 2012). The Oil Pollution Act (1990) enacted to deal with the issue of liability, mitigation and even prevention as it affects oil spill stipulates that efficient emergency team be prepared to deal with the impacts of oil spill, it also emphasises the need to have adequate resources in terms of finance to deal with the issues of oil spill clean-up and compensation payment (Nwilo and Badejo, 2012) and to deal with these issues as stipulated in the Oil Pollution Act (1990) and in line with the International Convention on Oil pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation (OPRC 90), National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) under the NOSDRA Act in 2006 to deal with issues of spills. It is important to note however that by provision of the Nigerian Constitution, International treaties to which Nigerian government is not legally binding on the country except it is ratified by the National Assembly, hence, environmental international laws is subject to the National Assembly to be effective in the country. There is also the Environmental Impact Assessment Act (EIA Decree 1992), it however legally excludes the public in the Impact Assessment process, it only allows for them to make comment on the report of the Assessment. This disqualification of the host communities in the Impact Assessment means they cannot adequately protect their environment since they are not legally involved in the Assessment process (Ako, 2010). This provision of the Act has led to the loss of a number of court cases e.g. Oronto Douglas vs. Shell and others, a case the appellant (Oronto Douglas) lost on the grounds that he had no legal standing to prosecute the case (Law Pavilion, 2008). There is also the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) Act 2007 which replaced the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA) Act Cap of 2004. NESREA is charged with the duty of enforcing the compliance of Organisations whose operation impacts the environment with relevant environmental laws and standards (Okafor, 2011). Some other relevant laws and regulations in Nigeria are listed below:

- Oil Pipeline Act - 1956
- Offshore Revenues (Registration of Grants) Act - 1971
- Oil Mineral Producing Area Development Commission Act - 1998
- Standards Organisation of Nigeria Act - 1990
- Oil and Navigable Waters Act - 1968.

To say the Nigeria State does not have environmental laws will be incorrect but the environmental laws and its enforcement alongside implementing court judgements have been on the weak side thus, it has not achieved the purpose of protecting the vulnerable Niger Delta people. The fact that the Federal government is supreme in environmental issues creates a bottleneck in enforcement as these environmental degradations happen at the local level. In the same vein there would always be overlapping in enforcement of laws as there is always more than one agency performing same function e.g. the Oil Production Act and the NOSDRA Act invariably serves the same purpose and this ultimately weakens enforcement of the laws (Okafor, 2011). Undoubtedly, Nigeria laws and policies as it concerns oil Production in the country were promulgated in favour of the Federal government and its actors, not minding the pains and impacts of oil activities on the people of the Niger Delta; these laws ensure the government gains maximum economic benefit at the expense of the host communities who pay with their blood and future of their communities limiting access to justice through the judiciary in the country. A glaring example is the amendment of the law to prohibit gas flaring; this amendment rather than stop, extended the deadline given in the original law to stop gas flaring while increasing the fines to be paid the Federal government for gas flaring (Ako, 2010).

In view of this, most of these laws appear to be a tool of marginalisation and disrespect in the hand of the Federal government against the Niger Delta people; their autonomy, control of their resources and environment as well as the sustainability of their communities. Agitations and peaceful protests by the people of the Niger Delta against the unfavourable disposition of the laws and policies (such as the Land Use Act and the Petroleum Decree) towards them have always been met with stiff repression from the government further deepening the marginalisation of the poor and vulnerable people of the Niger Delta (Francis et al, 2011), hence the need for self-actualisation through the use of violence and conflict against the Nigeria State and the Multinational Oil companies (Ako, 2010).


Years of neglect together with exploitation of the Niger Delta environment and resources by the Federal government and multinational oil companies to a great extent have undermined the development of the region while the former maximise profit and economic gains. Obviously, lack of efficient legal and workable financial institutions has made oil and oil exploration a curse rather than a blessing to the Niger Delta; environmental degradation, loss of arable farmlands, massive destruction of lives and property instead of development, growth and prosperity.

Agitation for recognition and protection of the Niger Delta environment did not just start now, it can be traced as far back as 1966 when Adaka Boro alongside members of his Niger Delta volunteer services on the February 23rd declared the Niger Delta republic due to the social, economic and political marginalisation they were experiencing in the early days of Nigeria’s post-independence. Adaka Boro quoted in Okumagba (2012) said there is need to examine with all seriousness if the level of development the Niger Delta region has witnessed is commensurable with the level of devastation the region has witnessed and the bulk of resources that the region is producing. He further said as quoted in Okumagba, (2012) “therefore, remember your seventy year old grandmother who will still farm before she eat; remember also your poverty stricken people; remember too your petroleum which is being pumped out daily from your veins, and then fight for your freedom”. Although this movement was repressed by the military, it however made a statement about what the Niger Delta region is facing just 10 years after oil exploration began in commercial quantity in the country.

Almost 30 years after Adaka Boro drew the attention of both government of Nigeria and the Multinational Oil companies to the level of environmental degradation and poverty in the region, successive government both military and civilian alike, failed to address this fundamental environmental and human right issue prompting Ken Saro-Wiwa a human rights activist from the Niger Delta to rise for the region’s defence in the face of this neglect, marginalisation and a hopeless future. Quoted in Ogege (2011) he said “We in Ogoni today are facing a situation which can only be compared to that of a civil war.. ..the ocean of crude oil has emerged, moving swiftly like a great flood, successfully swallowing up anything that comes its way; crops, animals, etcThere is no pipe borne water and yet the streams, the only source of drinking water is coated with oil. The air is filled with crude and smells only of crude oil. We are thus faced with a situation where we have no food to eat, no water to drink and no air to breathe”. Every time the region brings up their request the government’s reply had always been to suppress such peaceful agitation leading to the militarization of the Niger Delta region. Another level of government insensitivity to the agitation of the region was the public extra-judicial execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other members of the Ogoni movement in 1995 (Adejumobi, 2002). The failure of legal actions and peaceful protest to address the Niger Delta situation led to the use of violence by the people to drive down their demand.

Already faced with different kinds of brutality and militarization, a CIA report published in the year 2000 and referred to in Douglas et al (2004), warned of the spill-over effects of environmental stress in the Niger Delta. The youths out of frustration and joblessness became restive and took on anti-state activities to drive down their demands, ignoring the elders and traditional channel of communication between the communities and the stakeholders (Okumagba, 2012) and the people have decided to ambitiously face the worst, attacking the Nigerian State and Multinational Oil Companies’ facilities and installations, taking expatriates on hostage and other heinous activities (Abiodun, 2013).

According to Aminu (2013) which explained militancy as the act of taking violent actions against statutory authorities, this behavioural show of violence or aggression which Niger Delta indigenes are now known for is not innate nor is it a genuine hostility but it’s borne out of the fact that they have been frustrated by environmental degradation, poverty and injustice which have been perpetuated against them; you do not get smoke without having a fire burning. Frustrated as a result of the disconnect between them, their environment and livelihood with no back up, the people birth aggression against their supposed enemies; the Nigerian State and the multinational oil companies. Human rights violations by the Nigerian State and her agents, exploitation by oil companies, environmental hazards became the fire that produced the smoke, militancy (Ikelegbe, 2001).

Militias according to Duverger (1974) cited in Okumagba (2012) are civilians who train and could also dress like the army with the intent of matching their enemies (most times government forces) in combats and physical battles. They more often than not do not wrestle political power but serve as pressure groups on salient issues of interest to them. These issues could include social marginalisation, environmental issues amongst others (Okumagba, 2012). Between 1995 that Ken Saro-Wiwa was executed and now, over twenty militant groups have been formed in the Niger Delta. Prominent ones include the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) whose leader Henry Okah was recently convicted in South Africa for masterminding the October 1st 2011 bomb blast in Abuja, Nigeria and the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force (NDPVF) led by Ateke Tom. Other ethnic militia groups includes Niger Delta Vigilante (NDV), Niger Delta Freedom Fighters (NDFF), Ijaw Peace Movement (IPC), Egbesu Boys of Africa (EBA) to mention a few. The sole aim of these groups is to respond to the years of neglect and injustice perpetrated against them with violence and acts of sabotage (Adejumobi, 2002).

Violent activities of the different militia groups of the Niger Delta have ultimately made Nigeria Oil producing areas and fields about the most dangerous in the world with constant attacks and reprisal attacks by both the militants and government security forces. Despite the level of casualties the militants have become relentless in their quest with new militia groups being formed every now and then obviously due to some gains they also get through their sabotage acts such as oil bunkering and kidnaps.

These violent activities have less affected the militants as much as it’s affecting the defenceless civilians, the women and the children who get caught up in the crossfires and reprisal attacks by the government forces (Okumagba, 2012), these militants resolve to fight the government with their bloods but what about the civilians? The government and the Multinationals also have been feeling the impact of this violence with billions of dollars drop in revenue following disruption in oil production and also shut down of some oil facilities (Abiodun, 2013). While the Nigeria government see the activities of militant as acts of sabotage against the government’s economy, the MOCs sees it as threats to their businesses. Crude oil production in Nigeria at a time dropped from around two million barrels per day to about eight hundred thousand barrels per day as a result of militant strikes (Ogege, 2011). Also, loss of man-hour at work due to occasional kidnap of expatriates, deaths of workers and staff strength downsizing have negatively affected the reputations of the multinational oil companies. These and many more actions of the different militia groups in the Niger Delta prompted the Federal government of Nigeria to offer amnesty and pardon to the militants and chart a way forward. Over 8,000 youths laid down their arms to embrace the “olive branch” waived by the government in 2009. The sight and volume of these arms (gunships, rocket propellers, guns etc.) suggest to outsiders that has been years of intense battle in the Niger Delta (Owolabi, 2012).

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Figures 13 and 14 showing arms submitted (Source: Channels Television, 2013)



A common phenomenon in communities around the world where Multinational oil companies operates is agitations; it could however be confrontational involving the use of violence by mainly youths or without confrontations (Ogege, 2011). Agitations in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria started as non-confrontational but has grown into full blown violent confrontations, attracting the interest of not only the MOCs and the Nigeria government but the world at large. According to a Niger Delta Environmental survey carried out in 1997 and quoted in Okoji (2012), the people of the Niger Delta are increasingly having an understanding of their rights and how much the government and MOCs derives from the activities carried out on their lands. The militants have particularly made as one of their main targets, oil installations and other facilities owned by multinational oil companies including their staff. Multinational oil companies suffers continuous aggression from militants and host communities due to what the latter refer to as the contribution of the MOCs to the degradation and poverty of the region, demanding the pulling of MOCs (Okoji, 2012). According to a United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs report in January, 2007 quoted in Cyril (2009), about 50 foreigners were abducted out of which 2 were killed. In year 2006, a total of 118 oil workers were kidnapped, 70 of which were foreigners and 4 deaths recorded. The main targets are usually foreign expatriates and their families (American, European and Asian) because it attracts the interest of not only the MOCs and the Nigeria government but also of the home country of the kidnapped. Militants also raise funds from the huge ransoms they collect for the release of their victims. Kidnappings as being carried out by militant has effects on the economy of the Nation and business of the MOCs as it often results in loss of man-power and reduced production, affecting revenue generation.

Blowing up and destruction of oil facilities is another way through which militants have been confronting their targets (the Nigeria government and the MOCs). In 2007, Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) attacked Chevron, Agip and Shell facilities resulting in a shut-in of 675,000 barrels per day, (27%) of the daily estimated production of 2.4million bpd. Lawal (2008) quoted in Cyril (2009) also report a further increase in crude oil shut-in, increasing from just over 600,000 to about 1million bpd. These attacks on oil facilities are usually titled different operational code names like military operations e.g. Operation Locust

Feast, Operation Barracuda among others. A breakdown of 2007 data of attacks on oil facilities as put by Cyril (2009) is tabled below:

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten


Niger Delta region and oil remains the major driver of Nigeria economy. Contributing about 90% of the total revenue, 80% of the whole country’s foreign exchange and about 60% of the country’s GDP (Orbunde, 2012). However, the impacts of Militant activities in the Niger Delta, blown out of proportion due to the insensitivity various administrations and government to years of deprivation and neglect of the region cannot be overestimated. Most obvious is the direct effect on the economy and security of the country. Foreign direct investment through multinational oil companies which has been helping the economy develop is growing weaker and smaller by the day; this is because MOCs are shifting their investments to safer environments and countries like Angola. A report by Swartz and Connors, (2010) quoted in Nwogwugwu et al, (2012) showed that the foreign direct investment especially in the oil sector reduced to $5.85 billion in 2011 as against $13.96 billion in 2006. This downward trend has been linked to the high rate of insecurity in the Niger Delta. International Oil companies in the region are either reducing their stakes in or out rightly selling up their facilities (Proshare, 2013). Another example is the abandoning of work on the important East-West road (Linking the South-South of Nigeria to the South-East) by construction giant, Julius Berger due to continuous kidnap and threatening of its by the Militants. This continuous harassment according to the company which has allegedly paid up to 430 million naira as ransom could eventually lead the company to paying a large percentage of the contract sum as ransom or even loose some of its staff (Fidelis and Kimiebi, 2011). In an UNCTAD world investment survey carried out in 2007 and quoted in Nwogwugwu, (2012), Nigeria was ranked as the 40th most attractive economy in the world, placing it behind the likes of South Africa, Egypt and Morocco. Militant activities in the Niger Delta has often held the Nigeria Government to ransom with production capacity of the country not often specific, affecting budget planning and subsequently, capital developments. It’s important to note that militant attacks on locations had sometimes been carried out away from the Niger Delta region to further force down their demands. Atlas cove, an oil landing platform in Lagos was blown by militants in 2009, an operation MEND code named “Hurricane Moses”. Also, Abuja the Nation capital was attacked in 2010 during the country’s 50th Independence Day celebration, leaving about 10 people dead.

As enshrined in the constitution, it’s the responsibility of the Nigerian state to protect the citizens both from external and internal aggression while also ensuring protection of Multinational oil companies businesses and properties. However, events in the country especially in the Niger Delta have been a source of concern to how well the government can ensure this (Ojakorotu and Lysias, 2010). Constant clashes between militants and various security outfits in Nigeria have stretched the various outfits beyond normal with the latter having to constantly deal with issues such as piracy, destruction of oil installations and kidnappings. This constant clash has led to casualties both on both sides (the militants and the security outfits). Also, the cache of sophisticated arms and ammunitions at the disposal of these militants is a source of worry, exposing the proliferation of the country’s border and the inefficiency of different security agencies like the customs. The table below shows some casualties recorded by security outfits in the country with respect to militant activities; this does not include unconfirmed reports and minor cases.

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The list of attacks and casualties is endless. Records shows that between the years 1999 and 2007, there have been about 308 cases of people taken hostage, a further breakdown of the number revealed that about 76 of the hostages were soldiers (Ogbonnaya and Ehigiamusoe, 2013). These cases of kidnap among others like oil bunkering and Piracy has further heightened the fear of expatriates and tourists alike in coming to the country. The United States for example in January 2012 warns its citizens of the potential risk of travelling to Nigeria and essentially, the need to avoid all except important trips to the Niger Delta States of Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom (U.S Department of State, 2012).

However, while the issue of violence could appear to being gradually addressed by the government through its phased amnesty programme, the main contending issue of neglect, environmental degradation, human rights abuse and injustice such as court judgements mandating the Federal government to pay compensations for environmental degradations and human rights abuse in the Niger Delta are not being addressed. The implication of this is the potential escalation of another round of militant actions which is being threatened everyday by the ex-militants and their leaders. The fact that not all arms were surrounded implies that the Niger Delta in the absence of justice and urgent attention remains a keg of gunpowder.



This research work, Environmental degradation, Law and Justice with the account of militancy in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria as a case study sought to establish the fact that effective environmental Laws and enforcement which ensures that justice is meted for years of environmental injustice is a more realistic way of ensuring lasting peace in the volatile region.

In this work, I have highlighted the extent of devastation in the Niger-Delta environment, a result of over 50years of oil production and successive government neglect, the enormous changes this adverse effect has imposed on the livelihoods and social well-being of the people in the region. These effects arising from oil and gas exploration leading to the pollution of air, water and land majorly from oil spillage gas flaring threatens their existence as a people and sustainability. I also stated that this environment degrading activities impacts more on the poor rural dwellers in the creek that relies on the environment for supplies and livelihood and as such, a number of interconnected multiplier effect on the people ranging from socio-economic as well as health and psychological effects; the over-run effect of which is now militancy and militarisation of the region.

Also in the research, I analysed Nigerian laws as it concerns the ownership of oil and the environment particularly the oil and gas production environment. I submitted that some of the country’s laws which regulate the oil industry allows for environmental injustices in the Niger Delta. These laws need to be reviewed to accommodate a sense of recognition, equity, and fairness for the most vulnerable and invariably curb the violent activities of the militants which have enveloped the region for a long time now.

This research work alongside analysing some of the major environmental Laws also pointed out the roles of enforcement agencies that were set-up to deal with the environmental pollution, especially in the Niger Delta. Not much achievement has been recorded so far as the region continues to wallow in deeper environmental mess. The attitude posited by these agencies towards their work of ensuring a secure and healthy Niger Delta environment rightly showed that the government and her agencies are more disposed to oil proceeds than the wellbeing of the people in that region.

Therefore, the researcher proposes an encompassing integrated approach which would combine different developmental strategies packaged into one piece. It’s imperative not to use the wrong approach in addressing militancy and conflicts in the Niger Delta as the grievances leading to it are such that neither the Nigerian State nor the Multinational Oil companies can shy away from and needs to be addressed for the sake of peace and security in the region. The integrated approach must have this key element; it must be participatory and a bottom-up approach, different from the unsuccessful top-down approach. The host communities are the primary victim of degradation and should also be the main target for development which must be precisely defined based on their needs as these needs vary among the different communities and along society divide i.e. men, women and youths.


To the people of Niger Delta, there’s unarguably a difference between Judgement and Justice. While Judgement refers to the final legally binding pronouncement made by the Judge on litigation, it only transforms into Justice when it has undergone enforcement and this is where many a times the issue lies. Much Judgement has been passed as it affects the Niger Delta but not much Justice has been done on their issues, hence the emphasis on Judgement.

Having contributed little or nothing to the high level of degradation their environment is suffering from, the people’s lot in the pain, harm and responsibility shouldn’t be this much had proper Justice been done. The idea of Environmental Justice is aimed at seeking redress and restoring parity as both the Multinational Oil Companies (being legally entitled to the land and resources) and the host communities (being rightful occupants of the land) are entitled to health environment, safe living and operations.

While the present legal framework and Judicial system in Nigeria establishes revenue generation above environmental and health safety (giving room for exploitation of the vulnerable poor in the Niger Delta), weak enforcement and most importantly, places the burden of proof on the plaintiff rather than the defendant, Environmental Justice on the other hand emphasises fair treatment for all, enforcement of Laws, Policies and Regulations, respect for the environment and people’s development.

The Environmental Justice Framework emphasises on the need for an encompassing approach towards enacting new Laws and policies as well as reviewing existing relevant ones as it borders on the environment and activities that impacts it. Developing efficient risk assessment and response strategies, public participation towards constructive decision making and economic development of the vulnerable through empowerment, capacity and infrastructure building would help address issues of inequitable effects, unfair and unjust treatments being felt. It will also help to achieve accurate distribution of the wealth gained from the environment, here, oil.

This holistic approach to be used involves would involve identifying the needs and concerns of the affected communities and forging measures to address the concerns while also preventing future occurrences. Summarily, Environmental Justice framework has proposed by this research work seeks to emphasise

- Public participation to ensure constructive decision making, allows for meaningful developmental program and allows for peaceful coexistence.
- Respect for the environment and human lives. Also, respect for people's belief system, culture and ways of life.
- Joint effort by the people, government and Multinational Oil Companies towards addressing the issues of environmental clean-up, unemployment, capacity building infrastructure decay etc. and ultimately, Militancy.


Today the Niger-Delta is in turmoil, restive, poor, backward and neglected. As earlier stated, an integrated approach that would combine different developmental strategies, not overlooking any detail raised is about the best solution to the issue of militancy in the Niger Delta. The need to have a fearless, proactive and unbiased judiciary is an essential part of the mix which would go a long way in pacifying the heart of the Niger Delta populace. Likewise, Nigeria Judicial system should place on the environment and environmental protection as much premium it presently plays on politics towards ensuring social justice.

However, the following recommendations are further made for both the government and the Multinational oil companies.


- The present Laws as it relates to oil production in Nigeria such as the Federal Environmental Protection Act (FEPA) and the Petroleum Act should be reviewed to incorporate the protection of the environment and human wellbeing in it. Stiffer penalties should be placed on damage to the environment unlike the present laws while also emphasising compensation not prolonged beyond a certain period of time as obtained in developed Nations.
- There is need to also review the present land ownership Laws to allow for private ownership of land and resources while Legislation should be made for such owner of land upon which resources are found to pay royalties to the federal government. This would help reduce the conflict between the government and the people on rights and ownership. The government can own the resources offshore while the people controls their own lands with royalty paid the government.
- The government should embrace dialogue above armed conflicts in dealing with the issue of Militancy as it has proven over time that military action cannot solve anything. The few period of amnesty programme has witnessed relative peace, hence it has been proven that dialogue between the government and remaining militant groups would not only save the Nation of global embarrassment but would also save lives and properties of innocent women and children.
- Government should endeavour to protect the vulnerable women especially the young girls who are always at the danger of rape and other sexual embarrassment from both government forces and the militants. Also, undue militarisation of the Niger Delta region should be discouraged.
- Government agencies such as NOSDRA and NESREA should be equipped with competent adequate staff and effective monitoring facilities and financial resources to enable them to enforce the laws and regulations on environmental management.
- Government should also place emphasis on capacity building through Skill acquisition schools, employment schemes for graduates and rehabilitation schemes for militants that have already embraced the amnesty offer.
- Government in partnership with the Multinational Oil Companies should prepare a genuine action plan on how the environment would be cleaned up and restored. Also, the government should allow free running of the judicial process against the injustice already meted out on the people.

- A bill to allow for an upward review of the 13% derivation allocation being paid the Oil producing States should be placed before the National Assembly; this would further empower the states to develop these degraded regions.


- The multinational oil companies should ensure full participation of their various host communities in the development of projects. Different communities have different needs and lives in different terrains; hence they should be carried along in planning the developmental projects.
- Oil companies should seize to give money to community leaders; rather the money should be invested into the community.
- Oil companies should endeavour to adopt best practices in their operations. Also, the strategy of As Low as Reasonably Practicable (ALARP) should be adhered to.
- Multinational Oil Companies should team up with the Federal government taking the capacity building drive to the next level through training, job opportunities and encouragement for small business opportunities.


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Environmental Pollution Law and Justice. A Case Study of Militancy in the Niger Delta of Nigeria
Glasgow Caledonian University
Energy and Environmental Management
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environmental, pollution, justice, case, study, militancy, niger, delta, nigeria
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Ayodeji Akeju (Author), 2014, Environmental Pollution Law and Justice. A Case Study of Militancy in the Niger Delta of Nigeria, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/503517


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